Packers and Why We Need To Eliminate Divisions and Conferences

Here we are again talking about my preseason Packer picks. See, I’m beginning to regret that I keep dredging these up. Bear in mind these picks were made back before most of us realized how good the Packers were going to be or how average the Broncos were going to be.

So, going with the thought that most teams have one really bad loss per year, I tagged this Denver game for the Packers bad loss and said the Pack would lose 42-21. Ouch. But faithful viewers of C3K Live with Dan Smith know that I said on Monday morning that the Packers would win the game. So it’s not like I haven’t been paying attention and adopting, adapting, and improving what I knew or what I thought I knew back before the season started.

Anyway, the Packers are now 6-1. I thought they’d be 4-3 at this point.

I like that the Packers, and particularly Brett Favre, are modest about this great start. Favre is consistently saying at press conferences that the team has to improve and that he doesn’t know how well the team will do the rest of the way. Obviously he is saying these things not only because he probably believes them but also to keep his young teammates focused and aware that challenges lie ahead. He knows that some teams — like the Minnesota Vikings — can start fast but fade quickly. (Of course, now the Vikings start mediocre and fade to awful.) But it’s a good strategy. The only negative is that it leaves the national media underselling the Packers while they lap up like my dog laps up bacon grease another team with the same record, the Dallas Cowboys.

Hear me now and believe me later: The Packers are better than the Cowboys. Sure, they don’t have a running game — and sorry, but I don’t believe Ryan Grant as the next big thing — but they’ve got a better defense, a better quarterback, and better receivers. Plus Tony Romo has recently been linked to Britney Spears, who is toxic enough to bring down that entire franchise if she starts hanging around Texas Stadium.

OK, now I’m going to go off on a tangent but please stick with me. We just finished a very blah World Series that was swept by the American League’s Boston Red Sox. A few months back we had an excruciatingly bland NBA finals that was swept by the Western Conference’s San Antonio Spurs. Most people would argue that the best three or four teams in the NFL right now are in the AFC; most fans are probably more excited about this weekend’s game between New England and Indianapolis than they will be about the eventual Super Bowl matchup. In the NHL, you have . . . oh who am I kidding, I don’t know what the hell’s going on with professional hockey. You’ll have to read Barry Melrose to find that out.

Anyway, the point here is that obvious discrepancies between leagues/conferences exist in the most popular professional sports. And this is not a new development; it’s been going on for quite some time. The simple fact is that the ALCS, AFC Championship, and Western Conference Finals are consistently more competitive and more exciting than the eventual championship game or series. (Yeah, I know, the Cardinals beat the Tigers in last year’s World Series. But that has been the exception to the rule.)

Here’s how you fix the problem. You do away with conferences, leagues, and divisions. I know, a radical notion, but lots of ideas that seem crazy at first make more sense the longer you think about it (like Jeff George playing for the Vikings; he would immediately be better than half of the starters playing right now).

Here’s how it works: In every sport, you have one — just one — standing or poll or whatever you want to call it. The team with the best record is on the top, the team with the worst record is on the bottom. Tiebreaker is point differential (points scored versus points allowed).

Too complicated? It’s not too complicated to follow the Top 25 in college football, and each sport’s poll or standing would be only marginally longer. You lose divisional rivalries? Who says the Red Sox and Yankees can’t still play each other? Or the Bears and Packers? But then you say, yeah, but would the Packers and Bears only play once a year? Does Ohio State and Michigan only playing once a year make it less special? No, it makes it a much bigger game. Rivalries aren’t unique to divisions anyway; look at the Pats-Colts or Lakers-Celtics. Anyway, there’s more lousy games that would be lost than good games anyway — you think anybody wants to see Jets/Dolphins TWICE each year? It’s like going through two vasectomies.

Here’s how the playoffs would work. The best teams get in, period. No more mediocre division getting an undeserving team in. And if the best four teams in baseball are from the same former division, then that’s who gets in. Shouldn’t the postseason be about the best competing against the best?

Baseball playoffs: Best six get in. The best eight teams get in. Team eight plays team one. Team seven plays team two and so on. Football: Best twelve get in. Top four get a first-round bye. In the wild-card round, team five plays team twelve, team six plays team eleven, and so on. If the seedings hold, you’re left with the best two teams playing for the championship. And that’s what it’s all about.

I know, it sounds crazy, but let it sink it. It’s an idea whose time has come.

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